China’s “Cancer Villages” Acknowledged by Government Report
Created: 2013-02-22 12:12 EST
Thick haze blanketing some of China’s most populous cities. It’s been making headlines, but some of China’s more lethal pollution problems are not so visible to the eye.
On Wednesday (Feb 20) China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection released a report acknowledging what it calls “cancer villages.” Places where pollution is creating above average cancer rates among locals. While the term is not new, its use in official reports is.
This map was first posted by investigative journalist, Deng Fei, in 2010. It plots the location of 100 or so cancer villages. Since then, more recent reports estimate there are closer to 400 of these toxic towns.
Over the past three decades, the mortality rate from cancer shot up 80%. It’s now China’s biggest killer disease. Stomach cancer rates for rural Chinese are twice that of the world average. Liver cancer is three times the global average.
Rapid economic growth and lax environmental rules have worsened pollution in recent decades. Governmental reports from last year say that up to 40% of China’s rivers are severely polluted. It said 20% of rivers are so toxic that it is dangerous to come into contact with them.
Increasing protests over China’s environmental degradation have shown citizens’ outrage over the poor environmental regulations.
In a landmark case last September, a village protest stopped a Japanese paper plant in Jiangsu province from building a waste water pipeline. The Oji paper plant promised to filter its waste before dumping it in the sea but villagers didn’t believe it would keep its word.